VM Art Gallery displays Islamic artwork during ‘Firdous-e-Mouud’ exhibition
By: Ahtesham Azhar
KARACHI: The VM Art Gallery organised an inspiring art exhibition entitled ‘Firdous-e-Mouud (Promised Garden)’here at the premises of gallery the other day, which will continue till December 31. The exhibition is arranged by Romila Kareem.
On the occasion, 14 art pieces painted by Romila were on display. One of his art works entitled ‘Hand’ depicting the hope and human searching for peace and happiness. Another work with title ‘Topiary Tree’ displayed the environment of peace and happiness.
According to Romila, “My recent work is the result of my ongoing fascination with ‘Reflections of Paradise in Islamic Art forms’ both allegorically and literally. A continuum of mediums helped me in creating relief garden plans inspired by ‘Chahar Bagh’. Human hand carrying flowers is a symbol of hope and human search for peace and happiness.
“Path to the garden includes all those ways which can lead to the garden which we either make for ourselves or which has already been designated for us. In the case of my work this aspect has been highlighted in my daily life when I take my kids to the park as a reward. It acts as a sanctuary for us, a place of refuge and contemplation. The beauty of flowers, shady trees and the sound of water, cooling, cleansing and purifying, makes one realise the immanence and transcendence of the creator. It is a place where one can escape the unsympathetic realities of life in the city. My recent work is the combination of print, sculpture and miniature technique. After this process a new synthesis is emerging in my work.”
Director VM Art Gallery Riffat Alvi, sharing the work details, said Romila was a very significant artist and was deeply rooted in her traditions, both metaphorically and literally. “She weaves new synthesis in her artworks while researching the subject. I wish her all the success in her endeavors,” Alvi added.
Micheal Kempsone, Director CICADA Press, COFA, UNSW, Australia, once commented on work on Romila and asserted, “It was a great pleasure for me to see her work and to witness her passionate commitment to her printmaking practice. The graceful balance between flowing, playful organic forms with the formal structures that establish your pictorial foundation was highlight. Further to this is the innovation and invention that you bring to solving the problems that confront all artists though the working proceeds. I am impressed.”
Curator Shahana Rajani said that in her latest series, Romila explored themes of the Promised Garden found in Islamic art forms. The ChaharBagh is ideally based on a harmonious four-courtyard plan, where the symbolically charged center is usually occupied by a garden pavilion or a pool.
The Chahar Bagh dates back to ancient Persia, and was further developed as the model for major royal settlements in newly conquered lands on the Iranian plateau, as well as in Syria and Andalusia, throughout the early Islamic periods. This tradition then spreaded into central Asia and Mogul architecture, finding its highest expression in the 16th century with the gardens of the Safavids. Over time, the secular tradition of the royal pleasure garden became metaphorically imbricate with the Paradise Garden referred to in the Quran as a reward for the faithful. Exuding the ideals of a heavenly landscape, the four water channels symbolise the four flowing rivers of paradise. In the Islamic literary tradition, there is a long established convention to combine earthly imagery with mystical symbolism, explaining connections of the garden to human life, the soul and heaven.
Romila appropriates the traditional conceptualisation of the Chahar Bagh as spaces of security, contemplation and paradise, providing her viewers a psychological refuge. In her works the amalgamation of different symbols discussed, exudes optimism about the possibilities of peace and happiness to be found in the present and the future.